Musculoskeletal problems

Low back pain
Sprains & strains 

Low Back Pain

World-wide, back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical attention. Low back pain describes tension, soreness and stiffness in the lower half of the back. Around 8 in 10 people will have back pain during their lives. The good news is that low back pain is rarely due to a serious cause and will usually get better by itself, but it can take around 6 weeks to go away. 

The following NHS video provides helpful information on how to treat back pain and when you might need to seek medical attention. 

You should book and appointment with a doctor or nurse practitioner if:

  • your pain is getting worse despite treating it
  • you have a fever (high temperature) at the same time
  • if the pain travels to or is in your chest as well
  • if the pain is waking you at night
  • your pain is the result of an accident or an injury
  • you are unintentionally losing weight at the same time

You should seek immediate medical attention if:

  • you feel numbness or "pins and needles" in both of your legs, your bottom or your genitals that does not go away
  • you have weakness in you legs (eg: trouble walking)
  • you can't control your bladder or bowels (unable to keep urine in, or unable to keep poo in)

Sprains and Strains 

Sprains and strains are very common. The are more frequent in people who do not warm up properly or exercise when they are tired or unfit. 

The majority of sprains and strains will get better on their own, although it can take between 6 and 8 weeks to heal fully. You should be well enough to take part in sports again fully after around 12 weeks. 

Whats the difference between a sprain and a strain?

Sprains are injuries of the ligament and often affect the ankle, wrist and knee. Symptoms include swelling around the joint, bruising, pain and an inability to use the joint properly. 

Strains are caused by over-stretching (and sometimes tearing) a muscle. These can occur anywhere in the body but are more common in the back and legs. Bruising, swelling and reduced function are common symptoms. 

How can I treat a sprain or strain?

In the first few days you should treat with PRICE: Protect the limb, Rest, apply Ice, use a Compression bandage (from the pharmacy) and Elevate the affected limb. 

After this time you may begin to gently move the affected part of the body, as pain allows. 

You will find that pain killers will be helpful. Ibuprofen and paracetamol are usually recommended if you are able to take them. If you are unsure please check with your pharmacist. 

When to seek medical attention

  • The pain is not improving after around 5 days (even with pain killers)
  • If you cannot walk at all
  • The affected part of the body is deformed
  • You cannot move the affected part of the body
  • The affect part has gone numb

In these circumstances you should visit a Minor Injuries Unit, or Accident and Emergency Department.